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Power of the Force

Thoughts from a 'Star Wars' Evangelist

By Laura J. Bagby Sr. Producer - Who would have guessed that the year his book Star Wars Jesus released would be the very same year the world would celebrate 30 years of the Star Wars phenomenon?

Author Caleb Grimes certainly wasn’t thinking along those lines, because he told me in a recent phone interview, “I didn’t plan it; I think God planned it.”

Yep, just like somehow God led him to Christ the year Star Wars hit the silver screen, and God brought him and his Star Wars-loving wife together in 2001, the same year that Episode II: Attack of the Clones came out, which portrays the romance of Anakin and Padme. Coincidence? Hardly. Check it out in Grimes’ book.

A Fan’s Philosophy

So, what does this fan of Star Wars who has been influenced by the writings of Francis Schaeffer have to say to us through his detailed analysis of scenes and concepts from every Star Wars film from the original historic release in 1977 to the latest, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith?

Well, if you want to know the minutest details, then you need to pick up the book, because Grimes will enlighten you on the meaning behind those filmic elements that you might have taken for granted or never quite understood – all 101 entries. And, naturally, Scripture and biblical references are interlaced throughout his work.

“I quote the Bible quite often in the book because I really want to draw people into the Bible,” he said. “There is truth there that they need that they can be excited about in the same way that they are excited about the Force.”

With a title like Star Wars Jesus, someone is bound to want to know what Grimes’ point is in penning this spiritual commentary. So, of course, I asked, are you saying that Star Wars is a Christian film? I recall many a Christian suggesting that very thing during the early years of Lucas’ sci-fi morality plays. And then there were those who adamantly shouted that it was dripping with New Age philosophy, and certainly not Christian.

So, which is it? And should we as Christians be watching such films if Christianity doesn’t take on a prominent role?

Grimes first notes the director’s original intent: “George Lucas realized in the making of Star Wars people were really leaving the church in mass numbers, and a lot of people, a lot of kids, the most they knew was what they saw on television, which didn’t have any morality to speak of. So he created Star Wars as a morality of its own.”

OK, moral. But that doesn’t exactly answer the Christian/non-Christian debate.

So Grimes told me, “I hear a lot of Christians say Star Wars has a lot of the New Age. I am right with them, because it is true. In my research, there is a lot of Buddhism; there is Taoism; stuff we could call a little bit New Age now.” He further stated, “I go to great lengths in the book to say George Lucas and the makers of Star Wars never meant this to be Christian. I don’t want it to be Christian. I enjoy that it’s not.”

To the uninformed, Grimes might sound somewhat sacrilegious by espousing the film as being largely steeped in other religions and enjoying the very fact that it’s not a ‘Christian’ film. But if you listen to him a while, you will hear his belief that God’s truth isn’t limited to the Bible alone, but is revealed in the universe at large as well.

“One of God’s subtle, spy-like elements about Him is He allows truth to be in the world and not come from explicitly Christian sources, so that we as Christians have to go and be in the world and not be separate from it.”

That’s the power of story. That’s the power of movies.

And though he explicitly states in his book, “It is not my goal to convert to Christianity those who love Star Wars” in that most traditional sense, Grimes still desires to draw in those everyday curious fans through a more creative means.

“The way I do it as far as seeking to see Christ revealed in Star Wars, that’s very much my take on evangelism,” he said. “That’s where we need to be, because so many people are unchurched. They don’t know the parables of the Bible. So it is kind of like Paul at Mars Hill saying, ‘This is who I am talking about. Come see who I am talking about.’”

Evangelism --not through telling, but rather showing and allowing the reader to get the revelation – that’s the way Grimes is hoping to grab people’s attention.

“I think Jesus does call people and speak to people across all religions, and He wants to draw us to Himself,” he continued. “I see that in Star Wars . It is kind of like Jesus revealing Himself to the men on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t know Him, but they are talking to Him. And while they are fascinated with everything He is saying, in the breaking of the bread, they realize Wow! This is Christ, who has been with me this whole time. That’s really the idea, the aha moment. Aha, Christ, You are here! That is what I am really going for in the book.”

The Message Through Metaphor

Even though Star Wars isn’t a Christian film per se, there are definite parallels that we can draw from the Force and Lucas’ band of heroic characters.

Central to the theme of the Star Wars series is the concept of love, portraying itself in the self-sacrificing actions of the Jedi, namely Luke and Anakin Skywalker, and most especially in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“Obi-Wan is very interesting,” explained Grimes, “because originally George Lucas patterned him very closely after the Holy Spirit. But before the final shooting and before it was released, they decided to back off on that imagery just a little bit.”

Also showing itself as similar to the Holy Spirit is the lighter side of the Force. The Force is an unseen power that takes on the counselor role of the Holy Spirit, notes Grimes.

Without finding every possible “Jesus sighting” in the movie, suffice it to say that in the end, “It comes down to this crazy little thing called love. Star Wars doesn’t say it is all about love, but it is.”

For more details, please read Grimes’ new book, Star Wars Jesus.

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